Inofficial TTaskDialog Documentation

Andreas Rejbrand, 2011-02-13

Abstract

This document is an inofficial documentation for the TTaskDialog class introduced in Delphi 2009, but, unfortunately, not documented by the Embarcadero team. As the name of the class suggests, it is a wrapper for the task dialog API introduced in the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system. The lack of documentation caused quite some confusion in the Delphi community. Although any moderately competent software developer can figure out how to use the class by investigating its members and the VCL source code (using the MSDN documentation if necessary), it is convenient to have a reference to consult, so that one doesn't need to rediscover the workings of the class each time it is used. The aim of this document is to be such a reference.

The Hello World of A Task Dialog

with TTaskDialog.Create(Self) do
  try
    Caption := 'My Application';
    Title := 'Hello World!';
    Text := 'I am a TTaskDialog, that is, a wrapper for the Task Dialog introduced ' +
            'in the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system. Am I not adorable?';
    CommonButtons := [tcbClose];
    Execute;
  finally
    Free;
  end;

Caption is the text shown in the titlebar of the window, Title is the header, and Text is the body matter of the dialog. Needless to say, Execute displays the task dialog, and the result is shown below. (We will return to the CommonButtons property in a section or two.)

Sample of a TTaskDialog

Being A Well-Behaved Citizen

Of course, the task dialog will crash the program if running under Windows XP, where there is not task dialog API. It will also not work if visual themes are disabled. In any such case, we need to stick to the old-fashioned MessageBox. Hence, in a real application, we would need to do

if (Win32MajorVersion >= 6and ThemeServices.ThemesEnabled then
  with TTaskDialog.Create(Self) do
    try
      Caption := 'My Application';
      Title := 'Hello World!';
      Text := 'I am a TTaskDialog, that is, a wrapper for the Task Dialog introduced ' +
              'in the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system. Am I not adorable?';
      CommonButtons := [tcbClose];
      Execute;
    finally
      Free;
    end
else
  MessageBox(Handle,
             'I am an ordinary MessageBox conveying the same message in order to support' +
             'older versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system (XP and below).',
             'My Application',
             MB_ICONINFORMATION or MB_OK);

In the rest of this article, we will assume that the tax of backwards compatibility is being payed, and instead concentrate on the task dialog alone.

Types of Dialogs. Modal Results

The CommonButtons property is of type TTaskDialogCommonButtons, defined as

TTaskDialogCommonButton = (tcbOk, tcbYes, tcbNo, tcbCancel, tcbRetry, tcbClose);
TTaskDialogCommonButtons = set of TTaskDialogCommonButton;

This property determines the buttons shown in the dialog (if no buttons are added manually, as we will do later on). If the user clicks any of these buttons, the corresponding TModalResult value will be stored in the ModalResult property as soon as Execute has returned. The MainIcon property determines the icon shown in the dialog, and should -- of course -- reflect the nature of the dialog, as should the set of buttons. Formally an integer, MainIcon can be set to any of the values tdiNone, tdiWarning, tdiError, tdiInformation, and tdiShield.

with TTaskDialog.Create(Self) do
  try
    Caption := 'My Application';
    Title := 'The Process';
    Text := 'Do you want to continue even though [...]?';
    CommonButtons := [tcbYes, tcbNo];
    MainIcon := tdiNone; // There is no tdiQuestion
    if Execute then
      if ModalResult = mrYes then
        beep;
  finally
    Free;
  end;
Sample of a TTaskDialog

Below are samples of the remaining icon types (shield, warning, and error, respectively):

Sample of a TTaskDialog Sample of a TTaskDialog Sample of a TTaskDialog

Finally, you should know that you can use the DefaultButton property to set the default button in the dialog box.

with TTaskDialog.Create(Self) do
  try
    Caption := 'My Application';
    Title := 'The Process';
    Text := 'Do you want to continue even though [...]?';
    CommonButtons := [tcbYes, tcbNo];
    DefaultButton := tcbNo;
    MainIcon := tdiNone;
    if Execute then
      if ModalResult = mrYes then
        beep;
  finally
    Free;
  end;
Sample of a TTaskDialog

Custom Buttons

You can add custom buttons to a task dialog. In fact, you can set the CommonButtons property to the empty set, and rely entirely on custom buttons (and un unlimited number of such buttons, too). The following real-world example shows such a dialog box:

with TTaskDialog.Create(self) do
  try
    Title := 'Confirm Removal';
    Caption := 'Rejbrand BookBase';
    Text := Format('Are you sure that you want to remove the book file named "%s"?', [FNameOfBook]);
    CommonButtons := [];
    with TTaskDialogButtonItem(Buttons.Add) do
    begin
      Caption := 'Remove';
      ModalResult := mrYes;
    end;
    with TTaskDialogButtonItem(Buttons.Add) do
    begin
      Caption := 'Keep';
      ModalResult := mrNo;
    end;
    MainIcon := tdiNone;
    if Execute then
      if ModalResult = mrYes then
        DoDelete;
  finally
    Free;
  end
Sample of a TTaskDialog

Command Links

Instead of classical pushbuttons, the task dialog buttons can be command links. This is achieved by setting the tfUseCommandLinks flag (in Flags). Now you can also set the CommandLinkHint (per-button) property:

with TTaskDialog.Create(self) do
  try
    Title := 'Confirm Removal';
    Caption := 'Rejbrand BookBase';
    Text := Format('Are you sure that you want to remove the book file named "%s"?', [FNameOfBook]);
    CommonButtons := [];
    with TTaskDialogButtonItem(Buttons.Add) do
    begin
      Caption := 'Remove';
      CommandLinkHint := 'Remove the book from the catalogue.';
      ModalResult := mrYes;
    end;
    with TTaskDialogButtonItem(Buttons.Add) do
    begin
      Caption := 'Keep';
      CommandLinkHint := 'Keep the book in the catalogue.';
      ModalResult := mrNo;
    end;
    Flags := [tfUseCommandLinks];
    MainIcon := tdiNone;
    if Execute then
      if ModalResult = mrYes then
        DoDelete;
  finally
    Free;
  end
Sample of a TTaskDialog

The tfAllowDialogCancellation flag will restore the close system menu item (and titlebar button -- in fact, it will restore the entire system menu).

Sample of a TTaskDialog

Don't Throw Technical Details at the End User

You can use the properties ExpandedText and ExpandedButtonCaption to add a piece of text (the former) that is only displayed after the user clicks a button (to the left of the text in the latter property) to request it.

with TTaskDialog.Create(self) do
  try
    Title := 'Confirm Removal';
    Caption := 'Rejbrand BookBase';
    Text := Format('Are you sure that you want to remove the book file named "%s"?', [FNameOfBook]);
    CommonButtons := [];
    with TTaskDialogButtonItem(Buttons.Add) do
    begin
      Caption := 'Remove';
      CommandLinkHint := 'Remove the book from the catalogue.';
      ModalResult := mrYes;
    end;
    with TTaskDialogButtonItem(Buttons.Add) do
    begin
      Caption := 'Keep';
      CommandLinkHint := 'Keep the book in the catalogue.';
      ModalResult := mrNo;
    end;
    Flags := [tfUseCommandLinks, tfAllowDialogCancellation];
    ExpandButtonCaption := 'Technical information';
    ExpandedText := 'If you remove the book item from the catalogue, the corresponding *.book file will be removed from the file system.';
    MainIcon := tdiNone;
    if Execute then
      if ModalResult = mrYes then
        DoDelete;
  finally
    Free;
  end

The image below shows the dialog after the user has clicked the button to reveal the additional details.

Sample of a TTaskDialog

If you add the tfExpandFooterArea flag, the additional text will instead be shown in the footer:

Sample of a TTaskDialog

In any case, you can let the dialog open with the details already expanded by adding the tfExpandedByDefault flag.

Custom Icons

You can use any custom icon in a task dialog, by using the tfUseHiconMain flag and specifying the TIcon to use in the CustomMainIcon property.

with TTaskDialog.Create(self) do
  try
    Caption := 'About Rejbrand BookBase';
    Title := 'Rejbrand BookBase';
    CommonButtons := [tcbClose];
    Text := 'File Version: ' + GetFileVer(Application.ExeName) + #13#10#13#10'Copyright © 2011 Andreas Rejbrand'#13#10#13#10'http://english.rejbrand.se';
    Flags := [tfUseHiconMain, tfAllowDialogCancellation];
    CustomMainIcon := Application.Icon;
    Execute;
  finally
    Free;
  end
Sample of a TTaskDialog

Hyperlinks

You can even use HTML-like hyperlinks in the dialog (in Text, Footer, and ExpandedText), if you only add the tfEnableHyperlinks flag:

with TTaskDialog.Create(self) do
  try
    Caption := 'About Rejbrand BookBase';
    Title := 'Rejbrand BookBase';
    CommonButtons := [tcbClose];
    Text := 'File Version: ' + GetFileVer(Application.ExeName) + #13#10#13#10'Copyright © 2011 Andreas Rejbrand'#13#10#13#10'<a href="http://english.rejbrand.se">http://english.rejbrand.se</a>';
    Flags := [tfUseHiconMain, tfAllowDialogCancellation, tfEnableHyperlinks];
    CustomMainIcon := Application.Icon;
    Execute;
  finally
    Free;
  end
Sample of a TTaskDialog

Notice, however, that nothing happens when you click the link. The action of the link must be implemented manually, which -- of course -- is a good thing. To do this, respond to the OnHyperlinkClicked event, which is a TNotifyEvent. The URL of the link (the href of the a element, that is) is stored in the URL public property of the TTaskDialog:

procedure TForm1.TaskDialogHyperLinkClicked(Sender: TObject);
begin
  if Sender is TTaskDialog then
    with Sender as TTaskDialog do
      ShellExecute(0'open', PChar(URL), nilnil, SW_SHOWNORMAL);
end;

procedure TForm1.FormCreate(Sender: TObject);
begin
  with TTaskDialog.Create(self) do
    try
      Caption := 'About Rejbrand BookBase';
      Title := 'Rejbrand BookBase';
      CommonButtons := [tcbClose];
      Text := 'File Version: ' + GetFileVer(Application.ExeName) + #13#10#13#10'Copyright © 2011 Andreas Rejbrand'#13#10#13#10'<a href="http://english.rejbrand.se">http://english.rejbrand.se</a>';
      Flags := [tfUseHiconMain, tfAllowDialogCancellation, tfEnableHyperlinks];
      OnHyperlinkClicked := TaskDialogHyperlinkClicked;
      CustomMainIcon := Application.Icon;
      Execute;
    finally
      Free;
    end
end;

The Footer

You can use the Footer and FooterIcon properties to create a footer. The icon property accepts the same values as the MainIcon property.

with TTaskDialog.Create(self) do
  try
    Caption := 'My Application';
    Title := 'A Question';
    Text := 'This is a really tough one...';
    CommonButtons := [tcbYes, tcbNo];
    MainIcon := tdiNone;
    FooterText := 'If you do this, then ...';
    FooterIcon := tdiWarning;
    Execute;
  finally
    Free;
  end
Sample of a TTaskDialog

Using the tfUseHiconFooter flag and the CustomFooterIcon property, you can use any custom icon in the footer, in the same way as you can choose your own main icon.

A Checkbox

Using the VerificationText string property, you can add a checkbox to the footer of the task dialog. The caption of the checkbox is the property.

with TTaskDialog.Create(self) do
  try
    Caption := 'My Application';
    Title := 'A Question';
    Text := 'This is a really tough one...';
    CommonButtons := [tcbYes, tcbNo];
    MainIcon := tdiNone;
    VerificationText := 'Remember my choice';
    Execute;
  finally
    Free;
  end
Sample of a TTaskDialog

You can make the checkbox initially checked by specifying the tfVerificationFlagChecked flag. Unfortunately, due to a bug (?) in the VCL implementation of the TTaskDialog, the inclusion of this flag when Execute has returned doesn't reflect the final state of the checkbox. To keep track of the checkbox, the application thus needs to remember the initial state and toggle an internal flag as a response to each OnVerificationClicked event, which is triggered every time the state of the checkbox is changed during the modality of the dialog.

Radio Buttons

Radio buttons can be implemented in a way resembling how you add custom push buttons (or command link buttons):

with TTaskDialog.Create(self) do
  try
    Caption := 'My Application';
    Title := 'A Question';
    Text := 'This is a really tough one...';
    CommonButtons := [tcbOk, tcbCancel];
    MainIcon := tdiNone;
    with RadioButtons.Add do
      Caption := 'This is one option';
    with RadioButtons.Add do
      Caption := 'This is another option';
    with RadioButtons.Add do
      Caption := 'This is a third option';
    if Execute then
      if ModalResult = mrOk then
        ShowMessage(Format('You chose %d.', [RadioButton.Index]));
  finally
    Free;
  end
Sample of a TTaskDialog

Progess Bars and Callbacks

TODO: Write something here as well...

 


Copyright © 2011 Andreas Rejbrand